Get the care you need

Take control of your health plan with these tips

patient and doctor

Whether you’re managing a condition, or an unexpected injury or illness arises, there’s a fairly good chance you’ll need to see a doctor sometime this year. But depending on what kind of symptoms you’re experiencing, you might be a better fit for a certain type of facility (either through your primary care physician, a retail clinic, an urgent care center, the emergency room, or online via telemedicine).

So, which should you choose? Here’s how to take control of your health to get the care you need.

First step: Understand your network

The type of health plan you choose determines the network of providers you can visit. Doctors and hospitals in your plan's network are in-network providers. Those not in your plan's network are out-of-network providers. You may pay more for out-of-network services, and some may not be covered at all.

Next: Know your options — before you need them

When something is going on with your health and your primary care doctor isn’t available, you have other options that don’t involve a trip to the emergency room. Using virtual care, retail clinics, or urgent care centers when it’s not an emergency can save you a significant amount of time and money.

What can be treated via virtual care

For non-emergency care, telemedicine appointments can be a cost-effective way to get help quickly and safely. Here’s what you can typically get treatment for either online or over the phone with a board-certified doctor:

  • Allergic reactions (minor)
  • Bronchitis
  • Cold, cough, and flu
  • Digestive issues
  • Eye pain or irritation
  • Fever
  • Headache (minor)
  • Skin conditions
  • Sinus pain
  • Sore throat
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Vomiting

What can be treated at a retail clinic

Located within neighborhood retail stores, retail clinics can treat many of the same types of symptoms that can be treated with a telemedicine appointment. However, these facilities are a better choice when you are vomiting, having sinus pain, experiences cuts and scrapes, or need to be vaccinated.

Here are some additional symptoms that can be cared for at a retail clinic:

  • Allergic reactions (minor)
  • Bronchitis
  • burns (minor)
  • Cold, cough, and flu
  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Digestive issues
  • Ear pain
  • Eye pain or irritation
  • Fever
  • Headache (minor)
  • Insect bites
  • Sinus pain
  • Sore throat
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Vaccinations
  • Vomiting

What can be treated at an urgent care center

If you’re sick or hurt, an urgent care center can be a less expensive choice than an emergency room visit. Some of the top reasons to head to an urgent care center: allergic reactions (that are minor), stitches, animal bites, and sprains.

Here are a few more symptoms that can be treated at urgent care:

  • Allergic reactions (minor)
  • Animal bites
  • Asthma attack (minor)
  • Cold, cough, and flu
  • Back pain
  • Broken bones (minor)
  • Bronchitis
  • Burns (minor)
  • Digestive issues
  • Ear pain
  • Eye pain or irritation
  • Fever
  • Headache (minor)
  • Infections
  • Injuries (minor)
  • Insect bites
  • Sinus pain
  • Skin conditions
  • Sore throat
  • Sprains and strains
  • Stitches
  • Urinary tract infection

When to head to the emergency room

If you’re experiencing a life-threatening or severe sickness or injury, head to the E.R. as soon as possible. This includes overdoses, signs of heart attack or stroke, loss of consciousness, or a spine-related injury.

In addition, here’s what else should be treated at the emergency room:

  • High fever with headache or stiff neck
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Major injury
  • Overdose
  • Poisoning
  • Seizure
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Signs of heart attack or stroke
  • Spine injury
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Trouble breathing